Once again, it’s been a bit since I’ve written anything here but my wife picked out this movie on Netflix for us to watch and it got me thinking about it. I immediately recognized it as a new adaptation of Little Nemo, I remember seeing the animated movie from the ’80’s and playing the NES game when I was younger. I always knew it was based on a previous work but I never really knew what specifically that was until I looked it up and saw that it was based on an old comic strip. It’s a full page, multi-panel strip that’s mostly one-off adventures that always ends with Nemo waking up on the last panel but there are ongoing story threads that were enough to convince me to add this movie to the site and I plan on revisiting the classic cartoon movie before too much longer after I manage to watch the new Black Panther movie. Anyway, the movie was fun enough even though it fell into what’s seemingly become a trope for these types of coming of age fantasy movies using fantasy issues to resolve real life issues. And, as this is a fairly recent film, here is your spoiler warning.
Nemo is a young girl raised by her lighthouse keeper father played by Kyle Chandler on a small island just the two of them as her mother died when she was a baby. They have a cute relationship as he tells her bedtime stories along with her stuffed pig named Pig. Very early on, he dies and she is sent to her estranged Uncle Philip that she has never met who sells doordknobs for a living and has no social skills to speak of, as noted when he has a way too candid conversation with an obvious spam caller during his brother’s funeral. The stories her father told her were about his and his brother’s dreams and now that he’s dead, she starts having similar vivid dreams in her own Slumberland. While there, she meets Jason Momoa as Flip. Instead of the froglike, cigar smoking character from the comic strip, he’s basically the same character Jason Momoa tends to play, a fun loving self proclaimed outlaw that also happens to have horns and faun ears.
The world of Slumberland is fairly interesting and diverse. The way that it’s explained is that Nemo, Flip, and Pig go through these doors to enter other people’s dreams. Each person’s dream is visually different although during each of Nemo’s trips into Slumberland she goes through the exact same path through the exact same dreams which is a little on the convenient side that they all happen to be dreaming the same dream over the course of four or five different trips. Of course, not every trip goes through every dream. We get to see a salsa dance hall where everyone except the dreamers are made up of colorful butterflies, a kid driving a monster truck slash garbage truck through a glass city, and a Canadian flying a giant goose. They’re fun, they’re stylish, but in a dream where anything can happen it felt like there could have been more variety. That variety was hinted at in the elevator ride in the dream police station but not all that much was shown to the audience.
As has become the norm for these types of coming of age movies, there is some familial problem that needs to be solved through this fantasy adventure. Nemo is working through the death of her father and her new life in a new school with a boring uncle who doesn’t dream and has a fixation on doorknobs. It’s eventually revealed that Flip is her uncle’s dream persona who stayed in Slumberland when Nemo’s father got married. At the end of the movie, Flip returns to Philip and he becomes almost a completely different character, acting much more like the confident and roguish Flip. The climactic quest where Nemo takes a boat during a storm to her father’s island in the real world while retrieving a wishing pearl in Slumberland is exciting as is the turn where Philip rescues Nemo.
Overall, it’s a harmless and sweet family film. It’s unlikely to be a bonified classic, but the characters are likeable, Slumberland is interesting and beautiful, and the story is sweet. It could have gone a whole lot farther in several different directions but there’s nothing about this film that’s inherently bad. Even the dream cop Green is a fun and interesting character that goes from being an antagonist to having a different side of her once things have settled down. It follows the great coming of age fantasy movies like Coraline, Labyrinth, and Mirrormask but it doesn’t quite reach their heights. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Posted on February 7, 2023, in 20's movies and tagged comic strip, film, movies, review. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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